[a song meme]
My letter is I from Pagan Mom.
Those of you who know me will know how hard it was for me to narrow this list down to ten. So these songs are the ones that mean the most to me, or are simply the best of the lot, for today. I may have to do another post just to get in my favorites from among the rejects.
10. Isfahan by Duke Ellington (Far East Suite: Special Mix)
I'm a sucker for quality Orientalism, and The Far East Suite is a masterpiece of the genre. Johnny Hodges' alto sax leads "Isfahan," a stately paean to Persia's most beautiful city.
9. In a Cold Ass Fashion by Beck (Jabberjaw Compilation: Good to the Last Drop)
"I got options, I got cop shows
I get nauseous and the sweat is day-glo"
The best Beck lyrics lodge in my mind and stay there for years as cryptic labels that seem to sum up vast, complex, otherwise indescribable phenomena. "In a Cold Ass Fashion" is a throwaway produced by Carl Stephenson, who also did "Loser" and "Beercan," but it has more memorable lines than Beck's two most recent albums put together.
8. I Got a Woman by Ray Charles (The Best of Ray Charles: The Atlantic Years)
"She give me money when I'm in need
Yeah she's a kind of friend indeed"
Understated, smoldering, datedly sexist, genius. That crack in the voice when he says "money" makes my hair stand on end. Thank you, Ray Charles, for inventing soul music.
7. It's All in Your Mind by Beck (Sea Change)
"Well you're all scared and stiff
A sick stolen gift
And the people you're with
They're all scared and stiff"
It reminds me of someone I loved and lost, try as I might to change her. First released as a simple acoustic ballad on One Foot in the Grave.
6. I Am the Walrus by The Beatles (Magical Mystery Tour)
"Boy, you been a naughty girl you let your Knickers down."
It could've been "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" or "In My Life" or even "I'm So Tired," but we all know the Beatles, and I didn't want to turn this into ten songs by the Beatles starting with I. Anyway, this symphonette by John Lennon and George Harrison deserves pride of place, and I had it memorized for a while when I was 11.
5. In Bloom by Nirvana (Nevermind)
"Sell the kids for food"
For a metalhead like I was at the time, "In Bloom," with its surging power cords, tom fills and soaring chorus, was the way in. It was the first Nirvana song to grab me by the throat and not let go.
4. Intimate Interlude by Duke Ellington (The Intimate Ellington)
This song was the processional at out wedding. Jenny understood.
3. I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You) by Aretha Franklin (The Very Best of Aretha Franklin, Vol. 1)
"You're a no good heart breaker
You're a liar and you're a cheat"
Aretha's Atlantic sides are some of the best-produced records ever made. Listen to the way Aretha's voice fuzzes out when she gets loud, and listen to that band!
2. It's So Easy by Guns N' Roses (Appetite for Destruction)
"Besides you ain't got nothin' better to do
And I'm bored"
So deliciously sleazy! There are days when I think this is the best song on the best album ever.
1. In a Sentimental Mood by Duke Ellington (Duke Ellington & John Coltrane)
Yes, Duke Ellington is worth three slots on my top ten. Besides, he wrote a lot of songs starting with I ("It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)," "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)," "I'm Beginning to See the Light," "In a Mellow Tone"). This exquisite track opens the beautiful album of collaborations by two of the greatest innovators, thinkers and spiritual seekers in jazz. With Aaron Bell on bass and the incomparable Elvin Jones on drums, closing the piece with a press-roll that's almost a holy act.